The number one way I stretch our travel budget is by leveraging points and miles I earn through credit card use.
I’ve earned over $25,000 in free flights, hotels and more from my points and miles hobby, so we aren’t talking chump change here!
If you are interested in traveling for free with points and miles, you might be a little overwhelmed when you start learning about all of your options.
There are HUNDREDS of cards out there, and there is so much to learn about the differences among them.
So today I’m sharing my picks for the four best credit cards for free travel with points and miles.
I personally have all of these cards and they stick out as offering the best rewards for the least amount of hassle!
While these are the cards that I’ve found work the best for my type of travel, so they may not work the best for everyone.
These are the criteria I used for selecting my top cards:
- A sign-on bonus worth at least $500 in free travel
- No high annual fee (under $100)
- Realistic minimum spending requirement (about $1,500 per month for us)
I also have to mention that I don’t suggest using credit cards to earn points and miles unless you have a solid history of using credit responsibly.
If it would be hard for you to control your spending with credit cards and you would be prone to carrying a balance on these cards, then this isn’t the right pursuit for you.
Here’s my shortlist of the best credit cards for travel with points and miles!
Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa
The Chase Sapphire Preferred Visa (this is my referral link) is probably the most common card in frequent travelers’ wallets.
That’s because it earns Chase Ultimate Rewards, which are desirable because of their high value and flexibility.
The sign-on bonus for this card is a hefty 80,000 points, plus you’ll earn at least 4,000 points from meeting the $4,000 minimum spend in the first three months from account opening.
You can redeem these points for a statement credit. Or you can take advantage of a 25% bonus when you book through the Chase Ultimate Rewards travel portal or through a statement credit and get over $1,000 worth of free travel!
For a limited time you’ll also get:
- A $50 Ultimate Rewards annual hotel credit
- 10% annual points boost
The downside of the Chase Sapphire Preferred card is an annual fee of $95 that doesn’t give you much in return.
It also only earns 1% back on purchases other than travel booked through the Ultimate Rewards portal, which earns 5% back.
Chase Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier
The Southwest Rapid Rewards Premier Visa is an incredible card for earning free flights and one I’ve held for years.
You can read more about how I frequently travel to Disney World for free on Southwest here.
I’ve earned the coveted “Companion Pass” from Southwest by opening both this card and the business version of this card. You can find lots of solid advice on earning Companion Pass from Lynn at The Go To Travel Gal.
I estimate that between both cards (and I’ve actually earned the bonus from the personal card twice) and the Companion Pass I’ve earned over $20,000 in free flights from Southwest.
It is important to note that Chase’s “5/24” rule applies to this card.
This means that if you have opened five new credit cards in the past 24 months you will not be approved for this card, regardless of your credit score.
Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card
My next pick for the best credit card for travel is the Capital One Venture Rewards Credit Card.
What I love most is that you can redeem miles for a statement credit for any travel purchase, making them flexible and easy to redeem.
You can use this credit towards buying discounted Disney World tickets from Undercover Tourist.
IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card
The IHG Rewards Premier Credit Card has a nice welcome bonus, but that’s not actually why I got the card in the first place.
It was for the perk of one free night at any InterContinental Hotel Group hotel each year that you keep the card and pay the $99 annual fee.
We use our free night certificate to stay in an oceanfront room at the Holiday Inn Wrightsville Beach that costs $350 per night during the summer. It is a total bargain for $99!
This card now also appears to be under the 5/24 jurisdiction, though in the past it was excluded.
Well, that wraps up my favorite credit cards for travel with points and miles.
Do you have a favorite card? Please leave a comment below!
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Saturday 2nd of March 2019
[…] I also used miles to fly us out to the west coast on Delta. If you are new to leveraging credit card bonuses for free travel, check out my post on the five best credit cards for free travel with points and miles. […]
Get an Easy $200 Towards Your Vacation with the Disney Rewards Visa - The Budget Mouse
Thursday 10th of May 2018
[…] If you are willing to put in some time and effort, you can earn substantially larger sign-up bonuses with other cards. See my top five favorite cards for free travel here. […]